This graphic novel biography follows astrophysicist Stephen Hawking from his youth, through college and grad school and his rise to a position of prominence as one of the most respected scientists of our age. It also follows the progression of ALS, a degenerative neuromuscular disease as it took away his ability to walk, speak clearly, and eventually early everything (but not his ability to think. It also follows Stephen’s relationship with his wife and children, his divorce from his wife, and his remarriage. All three strands are woven together in a well-balanced. well-written, and masterfully illustrated narrative that will give the reader plenty to think about.

Why should I read this book?

This book does an excellent job of highlighting both he ways that Hawking is exactly the same as any other human being, and the ways in which he is different. We see his frustrations and foibles, the ways in which he loved thinking about the way the universe is structured, and the ways in which that thinking often left his first wife, herself a talented and smart person, with the bulk of the responsibility for the kids. We see the ways in which he was a generous and excellent friend, and the ways in which he could be selfish and inattentive. All in all, it paints a clear picture of who Stephen Hawking was. The art work is well-suited to the tale and more than carries its own weight in terms of portraying the story, asking the reader nuanced questions, and combining with the text to get across remarkable detail of Hawking’s life.

Who is this book best for?

While bright middle school students could certainly follow it, I think it is perhaps best suited for high school students. And while it might be tempting to set it aside for students who are especially interested in science, I would encourage teachers and librarians to think of a more wide audience for this book. There is plenty of social story in here for anyone who likes reading how people get along (or don’t get along) with each other.

Challenge Rating: No Challenge

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Note: This graphic novel is also available in German as “Hawking: Sein Leben als”, Spanish as “Hawking” and Italian as “Hawking”